Monday, July 16, 2007

We All Suck At Cross-Selling

I agree the broken rear light is an issue, but if sir would follow me round to the front of the vehicle ...

Thanks to the boys at TTAC for pointing me at an interesting post talking about how poorly car dealers manage selling opportunities from within their service departments. If I may quote, “Not maximizing all of the opportunities is one of the biggest challenges in service departments today,” Judy Williams, director parts and service for Downtown LA Motors, said. "Ironically, part of the problem is that service advisers are too busy answering the phone setting up appointments rather than walking the customer around the vehicle in the service lane up-selling necessary repairs. Service advisers leave a lot of money on the table when they don't fully evaluate the vehicle with the customer."

Well, quite. However, the LA service facility quoted above must have its head up its well styled MB rear end because whenever I take my crappy old Acura in for a service I can guarantee the service rep I get will spend hours taking me through the fifteen other things I really should get fixed TODAY.

That all being said, there is indeed a big disconnect in this cycle, though it's not within the service department itself but rather between service and sales.

My car is 9 years old, has 135,000 miles on the clock and gets serviced regularly at the same main Acura dealer. The service guys have never, ever pointed out that for what I'm spending on repairs I could lease a new car instead. They have never once said,"you know, we might have a buyer for your car if you are interested, and by the way there's this great Wombat Mark 3 we just got as a trade in you'd love". Frankly, when being presented with a bill for $1,200 to fix something trivial (the rear-hatch lock comes to mind) then I'm vulnerable as hell at that point to driving something - anything! - else. I'm a loyal customer; I pay my bills; I have a clear and pressing need. This stuff really isn't hard.

Silicon Valley makes exactly the same mistake. We don't systematically connect our support activities into sales in such a way that we could spot where customers have unfulfilled needs, are running out of licences, have issues our products don't yet cover or any one of a hundred other ways in which field teams can turn adversity into opportunity. At best, we struggle just to let the sales guys know if they are walking into a minefield when calling on Fluffy Cat Bakery because they've been offline for two days thanks to a bug in our PoS-terminal software.

Support isn't to be viewed as a separate function, an end in itself. We're much better served is we view it as just another route into opportunity that we could - indeed, should - be exploiting.


I said...

Damn right. I have a case at the moment. Customer upset. Support doing ok job, but customer is stuck with migration and product roadmap. We go into help, hey presto we find out they have new project coming down pipe. Without engagement we would never have found $200k downstream opp!

J said...

Spot-on. Any thoughts on how to make this more systematic in your environemnt though? These point examples seem to come up time and again but I'm not aware of any focussed programs in large companies like yours to figure out how to exploit it more regularly.

I said...

it's down to the managers to sort their stuff out. I talk to the head of support often. I also hold our team meetings (pre-sales and services) in the support office and we also take them out for a joint team meal/event. Its a techie to techie conversation and i'm the link to the sales guys! We are also looking to hire one of the tech support guys!